crazy little thing called bee balm

As it turns out, I understand exactly nothing about bee balm. Nothing.

Last spring, I bought what I thought to be three four inch starts of red bee balm. When I planted them, I split two of them in half. So five mounds of what I thought to be red bee balm. Although the mounds grew and were happy little green mounds. They never flowered.

This spring. The mound that was once an entire four inch start, was a big green mound early on. The other four smaller plants had spread, a good bit. Happy and green. And then spread and grew. And then spread and grew. And then spread and grew. All through the spring this year. For most of the past month, I have watched them approach three feet in height, some taller. And watch them produce what I was hoping was flower buds, but really just looked like a set of leaves curled up on themselves.

I was out watering this morning and squealed, nearly dropping the hose, when I saw that we had honest to gosh bee balm flowers! And I mean the make-the-neighbors-uncomfortable-kind-of-squeal-coming-from-a-big-giant-bald-headed-man kind of squeal.

And then I leaned in. And then I scratched my head. Lavender. Lavender bee balm.

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Don’t get me wrong: I love lavender. Seriously. Like, if a color could be a spirit animal that would be mine sort of thing. But… I bought and planted red bee balm. Specifically because that seems to be the color for hummingbirds.

Somewhere in the back of my mind, I wondered about the crazy spread of the bee balm earlier this spring. Maybe I sowed some bee balm seeds last year through the same area that I planted the starts. Maybe. I did do that in another wildflower bed this year.

So as I’m convincing myself that the blooms are part of the odd spread and not the planted mounds, I notice another clump of flowers elsewhere in the bed. A noticeably darker set of flowers. “Oh! I say to myself “There’s the red! Yay!” (The “Yay! may or may not have been aloud.) Oh, never mind.

Purple. Purple bee balm. Also not the bee balm that I bought and planted. But a lovely offset to the lavender a foot or so away. Just. Not. Red.

Mind you, this is the tiniest of fractions of the bee balm now growing in the bed that will undoubtedly be called the bee balm bed by this time next year. Perhaps there is still red churning in there somewhere, brewing, waiting to burst forth.

And maybe bee balm is simply the chaos theory manifested in flower form. I do feel accomplished for getting it to grow so much and bloom though, so there is that.

I will take the victory will I find it.

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As a bonus: this particular nasturtium plant is lush and thriving. I might have to stuff some of the blossoms with cambozola for our poached salmon dinner tonight. A bright fresh summer meal in the cool shade of our wabi-sabi cottage.

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